Sunday, March 5, 2017

Amaranthe Live in Ft Wayne

I recently drove down to Ft Wayne, Indiana to see Amaranthe in concert. It's about a 2.5 hour trip each way, but the concert was a lot of fun - well worth the drive.
The concert was held at the The Hub Entertainment Center. It's a smallish venue, and the crowd wasn't that large - maybe a few hundred people. Good thing, too, because there was only one person dealing with tickets and two doing security checks at the door, so it took forever to get everyone in. If they ever get a really big crowd there, they'll have some trouble! Inside there's a open floor area by the stage with tables for people to sit beyond. It's clearly meant more for stage shows than rock concerts, but it served the purpose.

There were four opening acts, which in my opinion was at least two too many. I got pretty restless waiting for Amaranthe, especially since all the set changes added up to more than an hour. Probably didn't help that the last two weren't my favorite music style.

Smash Into Pieces was pretty good, though since they were the first act the crowd wasn't too involved. Hard rock sound, and they certainly worked at getting the crowd warmed up. The most memorable part of their act was a sort of veil the drummer was wearing with LED lights on it that kept flashing and changing colors.
Cypher 16 started out poorly, but got a lot better toward the end of the set. Not sure if they had some technical issues or what in the first couple songs, but by the end they'd gone through some really good heavy sequences. The bass player was fun to watch, jumping around the stage like a crazy man.
Citizen Zero has too much of a generic modern rock sound for my taste, but they do a good live performance. Everyone seemed to love their cover of Stranglehold. I thought their drummer in particular did a really good job.
Failure Anthem is unfortunately well named. Another generic modern rock sound, and in this case the live performance didn't add much. Part of that was probably because they were touring with a substitute lead vocalist. I also thought the bass was cranked up way too much during their set, and as a former bass player it takes a lot for me to say that. Not impressed.

Around three hours into the show, Amaranthe finally took the stage, and the wait was worth it. The band is unique (in my experience) in that they have three different vocalists. That "three-headed monster" approach, plus guitar and bass, meant the stage was pretty crowded. It helped that they'd put up a sort of catwalk area behind the drums, where a band member or two would often retreat to open up some space. Sometimes vocalists who aren't actively singing don't add much to the show, but Amaranthe doesn't have that problem. Elize Ryd is easy on the eyes no matter what she's doing, but she didn't rely on that and was engaged pretty much constantly. Occasionally one or two of the guys would leave the stage, but mostly all three were out there: moving around, headbanging, working the crowd, etc.
Amaranthe has been described as melodic dance metal, and that's a good description of the live show. Driving drum/bass lines, heavy guitar riffs, and the growling third of the vocals for "metal"; the other two-thirds of the vocals and some slower songs for the "melodic"; and some very upbeat choruses for the "dance." I thought the most impressive single song they performed was On The Rocks, which combines all three nicely.
I was happy to hear a mix of songs from all four Amaranthe albums in the set list. Of particular note: Automatic, my favorite track; Drop Dead Cynical, which the crowd was calling for and was the last song played; The Nexus, their most popular track according to Spotify; and Amaranthine, a love ballad that was clearly a big hit with the crowd. I was mildly surprised that they didn't do Supersonic, which is from the latest album and seems like it was made for live performance, but I suppose they can't fit everything in. Also of note was a drum solo by Morten Løwe Sørensen that was very impressive, the best I've experienced live since I last saw Rush.
The Amaranthe set lasted almost exactly 90 minutes, including a short intermission of 5-10 minutes when they let the crowd chant for a bit, then bass player Johan Andreassen came out and worked the crowd for a few minutes before the band started up again. The main difference after the break was that Elize had changed clothes, so maybe that was the point. The show ended almost exactly at midnight and the road crew immediately started breaking the set down, so I guess they had a hard stop at that point. Too bad since I'd have loved another half hour or so.

I'll definitely see Amaranthe again if the opportunity arises. Maybe next time their tour schedule will bring them a little closer.

No comments:

Post a Comment